Magazine article Management Today

IN MY OPINION: Chartered Management Institute Fellow Bruce Lloyd, Professor of Strategic Management at South Bank University, on Listening to the Future

Magazine article Management Today

IN MY OPINION: Chartered Management Institute Fellow Bruce Lloyd, Professor of Strategic Management at South Bank University, on Listening to the Future

Article excerpt

Strategy is about first asking questions, then improving the quality of those questions through listening to the answers and acting on the new knowledge. Any effective strategy requires the successful integration of thoughts about tomorrow's new business opportunities with both past experience and the patterns of today's behaviours. We should also improve the quality of our questions, particularly those about the future.

Yet how much time does the top management of any organisation spend thinking systematically about the future, rather than promoting or justifying past performance?

Where do the chief executive and the board obtain their knowledge about the future? Are they future-literate? Are they aware of, and plugged into, the networks that specialise in exploring future trends and potential discontinuities?

What priority is given to knowledge about the future within any knowledge management process? Are knowledge management systems asking the right questions? Unless this is happening, organisations will be deluged with irrelevant information. It's only by asking the right questions that 'information overload' can be avoided.

Most publications on knowledge management seem preoccupied with the technical aspects of the subject. Few consider the role of dialogue, or of asking the right questions, in the generation and development of new knowledge.

Successful organisations have to exploit paradoxes. They need to focus on current core competencies while recognising the need for change and innovation. To start this process, top management should ask itself some key questions: what are the future trends and developments that might have a profound impact on the business; how is future literacy managed; who holds the main responsibility for future thinking and creativity?

Ideally, everyone in the organisation should be involved. Consider whether people are really encouraged to share ideas. Many people believe that they work in organisations where the underlying culture is 'Knowledge is Power'. How can a sharing culture thrive in such an environment?

Again, there are questions worth asking: how is the knowledge available throughout the organisation systematically used in the development of strategy; who is responsible for the management of this process; does the board spend enough time focused on the future; how are future priorities determined?

Asking the right questions is only a start. Effective listening, and effective action based on the answers, is also needed. Listening to the future is key to long-term business success and this is particularly true in periods of rapid change and innovation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.